Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) warns in a post on Medium why Speaker Pelosi’s partisan drug pricing scheme, which she is trying to pass in order prop up the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would be devastating as American innovators continue their search for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The World is Counting on American Innovation to Get Us through this Pandemic — It’s Tragic House Democrats Want to Diminish It
June 29, 2020
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
As the world continues the race toward a vaccine for COVID-19, all eyes are on the United States where we have an environment that encourages innovation for drugs and therapeutics. Operation Warp Speed, an initiative spearheaded by President Trump, has a pool of more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates and is currently supporting 14. If a measure like Speaker Pelosi’s partisan, cures-killing drug pricing plan was in place, the search for an end to COVID-19 would look very different. One of the major lessons learned during this pandemic is the benefit American innovation brings to all sectors of our economy. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has renewed her calls to pass bad policy that would discourage innovation.
We know H.R. 3 will lead to fewer treatments and cures. While some members of Congress have openly said they are willing to make that sacrifice, we believe that runs counter to everything America stands for. A study found that this legislation could “reduce by 88% the number of drugs brought to market by small and emerging companies in California alone…” The Congressional Budget Office released a partial estimate that we would have 15 fewer new drugs while the Council of Economic Advisors had the number much higher at 100 lost medicines. What if one of those missed opportunities was a cure for COVID-19? Or Alzheimer’s? Or breast cancer?
We can and should take steps to ensure that every American has access to affordable medicines, but we can lower drug costs without destroying innovation. And we have to do this important work in a bipartisan way. Every provision in my bill, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, is bipartisan. In fact, many of the provisions in that legislation have already become law. For example, we can now take action against companies trying to game the system by delaying production of generic drugs, which can be up to 90% cheaper for patients. Another provision from my bill that is now law lowers drug costs by helping increase the number of drugs available over the counter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the consequences of being too dependent on other countries. Before the rest of the world knew this pandemic was coming, China began to secretly hoard masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). The initial lack of American producers for these supplies contributed to frontline workers not having the PPE necessary to protect themselves and others. Now we are in a much better place with PPE because of Americans rising to the challenge and adapting to manufacture PPE, paired with the Trump administration working around the clock to fly in needed resources and help private companies ramp up production. But this should be a teaching moment for our country, especially as we prepare for the fall and winter months. We must strengthen our medical and drug supply chain by moving more production to America and diversifying our sources abroad, but instead of working to make these changes, Speaker Pelosi is promoting policy that could allow our adversaries take the lead in innovation.
CLICK HERE to read the op-ed.